Construction Management

3 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Subcontractor Software

Published by in Construction Management

You’re probably thinking:

“It’s time. Time to make one of the most important decisions I’ll make for my company. Time to choose the software that will be at the foundation of all that we do.”

So what do most people do? They start searching the internet for “subcontractor software, construction management software, contractor software, and best contractor software.”

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As you have probably discovered, trying to sift through the thousands of software companies in the world is confusing and complicated.

You’re probably now asking yourself, “Why on earth can’t this just be simple?”

Well, you’re now in the right spot. Use this guide to simplify the process and pick the software best suited for your needs. If your answers to these questions raise any mental red flags, it could be an indicator that you need to look for another subcontractor software brand.

1. Is the Software Simple to Use?

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Time for a little history lesson about software.

Software used to be complicated, so complicated that most of it was custom built, not very user friendly, and usually too expensive for subcontractors to even consider as an option for their businesses.

Remember the old Microsoft operating systems and the “blue screen of death?”

Remember having to spend 4-5 hours with customer support only to find out that you lost everything?

Let’s fast forward to the present day.

Software doesn’t have to be complicated anymore. It can be user friendly, and it’s now a financially viable option for subcontractors. Unfortunately, many of the old-school software companies had a hard time making the switch to the current age of simple, cloud-based, easy to use, fast to set up, mobile software.

Here are some questions to ask yourself about the software you’re looking into to see if it will be easy to pick up and implement.

  • Is this software specifically for my industry? Within the contracting world, there are different software options for general contractors, builders, service-oriented subcontractors, project-oriented subcontractors, and more. Pick the software that is most applicable to your subfield.
  • Does the software company claim that the program can do everything? There are no software programs that do everything at an excellent level. The good ones will tell you exactly what they do excellently and exactly what they don’t do.
  • Do you have to host it on a local server? If not, where is the server?
  • When was the company founded? This will be a good indicator of if it’s a company that embraces modern practices.
  • Does the user experience remind you of other  programs that you use? It should be as simple as setting up and using your Facebook account.  
  • Could a 3rd grader use the software? We’re in a low-tech industry and it’s a waste of time to learn a complicated system.

2. Is it Fast?

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The subcontractor world is competitive.

Some would say it’s insanely competitive. For example, we once had a subcontractor customer losing build opportunities over a 1% price differential.

Your ability to do the job fast and without error is often what separates your company from the rest of the pack.

You should expect the same from the software company that you choose to work with. Someone will have to implement and set up the software, someone will add all your company data, someone will train your employees, and you will use it in the field. How fast can things be done without error?

Here are some additional questions to ask about speed:

  • How fast can they get me live? Two weeks or less is a good target.
  • Do they set up my software for me? If not, self setup takes up more of your time.
  • Who inputs all the historical job data? This depends on how big of a company you are. For example, if you are importing eight years of historical data and rolling out to 200 employees, then you need to take time and labor costs into consideration.
  • Who trains my employees, and how long will that take? It should only take 30 minutes maximum.
  • How do you train an employee who is technologically averse? They should be able to give guidance on this common problem.
  • How fast do you respond to customer service requests? This indicates the level of help you will get after being a customer.
  • How easy is it to get ahold of customer support? Try it out. Ask to call the account manager that will be helping you once you’re a customer.
  • How long does implementation and training take? If it’s more than 5-6 hours, ask why.
  • What is the historical system down time? If the system goes down, you won’t have access to your company data.

3. Is it Mobile?

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The definition of mobile is being “able to move or be moved freely or easily.”

Today, a good software program moves with you on the go and moves your data to other programs with ease.

You may have heard terms like “open API” (meaning the software can send your data to other software programs). The reason mobility is so important is because there is no software that can be everything to all people.

It’s in your best interest to know ahead of time what a software can or cannot do at an excellent level. If a software company doesn’t excel at something, they have an open API and usually an integration with a company that does that task at an excellent level.

On top of that, if you can’t access your software on your cell phone, that’s should be a deal breaker. People are constantly on the go and we need information at our fingertips.

Here are some additional questions about mobile:

  • What integrations do they already have? If they don’t have any, they might be a company that thinks they can be all things to all people. If they do, its an indicator that they know exactly what they are good and not good at doing.
  • Are there mobile applications? Ideally they should have Android and iPhone applications or have a mobile-responsive website.
  • Is the mobile view, or mobile application, even simpler to use than the desktop version? Mobile should simply take you to the information you need on the go.

Hopefully this helps simplify the seemingly complicated path of choosing your subcontractor software.

Of course, you can always start with Capterra’s construction management software directory to help you slim down your choices.

What other features do you look for with construction management software? Do you think I missed something? Let us know in the comments below!


Looking for Construction Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Construction Management software solutions.

About the Author

Sam Knight

Sam Knight

Sam is the Co-Founder of Bolt Software Technology, LLC and is the leading expert in subcontractor software for the Home Building Industry.

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